Fracking 'can continue' says report

Published Tuesday, 17 April 2012
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Decisions on whether or not to allow a controversial practice of drilling for gas to go ahead in Fermanagh will not be rushed, the Environment Minister has said - despite a report which gives fracking the green light.

Fracking 'can continue' says report
Engineers look at a shale fracking plant in Lancashire. (© Getty)

The process, which has been known to trigger earthquakes, was halted in England last year after causing two tremors near Blackpool.

But Tuesday's government-commissioned report is recommending that fracking can continue with care and the advice means thousands of new wells could be constructed across the UK.

"I will consider this latest report, noting that its content is limited to the issue of earth tremors and does not address other issues and concerns around fracking," Environment Minister Alex Attwood said.

"I have always said that all appropriate planning and environmental standards will strictly apply on the issue of fracking - this approach will not be compromised."

The right approach is to ask do we want to or need to extract the gas and can it be done safely? A rush to fracking is ill-judged.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood

The report has called for "an effective monitoring system to provide near real-time locations and magnitudes of any seismic events as part of any future fracking operations".

Australian mining firm Tamboran Resources have been carrying out preliminary analysis tests since last year on the underground shale in a site in the south-west of Fermanagh and in north Leitrim.

As well as concerns regarding tremors, the fracking process has also been dogged by allegations of pollution and it is feared damage could be caused as a result to tourism and farming - the county's main industries.

"I continue to work with the Dublin government on the issue, given that the Lough Allen basin is a shared cross-border asset. I have also met Tamboran and made clear my approach," Mr Attwood added.

Tamboran Resources insists that chemicals will not be used during any fracking in Fermanagh.

But Green Party leader Steven Agnew is against the process and believes that, as more people learn about it, concerns over fracking will continue to grow.

"This report only investigated the potential for fracking to cause earthquakes without looking at the bigger picture and the even more detrimental effects of the process," Mr Agnew said.

"This process has taken place in America, and there's an independent environmental protection agency there that's doing a report which will conclude in 2014.

"Let's wait and see what we can learn from the American experience before we make any major decisions that could have a devastating impact here in Northern Ireland."

© UTV News
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3 Comments
charles in lisbellaw wrote (953 days ago):
It will come down to whether the people of Fermanagh/Leitrim are going to allow the likes of uber greedy arlene foster (the frackers friend) to exploit the west of Fermanagh for her own personal gain, or if they are going to stand up to her lunacy and physically protect this beautiful land from the gratituious excesses of her pure political personal greed.
Bodhi in Blefast wrote (953 days ago):
Fracking is NOT safe! Anyone who has seen the documentary "Gasland" can find that out for themselves. Fracking poisons waterways, the air and land all around. It is poisonous to the people and animals nearby too. In the documentary, people actually SET FIRE to their TAPWATER which has been contaminated by gas from fracking. I urge everyone to say ABSOLUTELY NO to fracking here in our beautiful island and also the mainland.
George in Traveling wrote (954 days ago):
I wonder what sort of backhander the Government will get for allowing this dodgy practice to take place at the various proposed sites,I'd dare say it will plug a few shortfalls so of course it's safe - NOT.
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